FAIRBANKS — A group of musicians with a repertoire as vast as the music world itself is coming to Fairbanks this weekend where they will premiere songs written exclusively for Alaska.
The group is Portland Cello Project, made up of a cast of rotating musicians who take a cello performance and amp it up to unbelievable levels. No two of their shows are alike, and their repertoire includes more than 800 pieces — everything from classical to Taylor Swift and Kanye West to jazz and movie themes and even hip-hop. This weekend, the cello group is performing Sunday night at Hering Auditorium as part of the Fairbanks Concert Association’s 2015-16 season.
While in Alaska, they also will debut a new piece written about breakup in the state. During their 2014 visit to the state, the cellists were so inspired by spring they started to sketch ideas for an Alaska-inspired breakup album, according to a release from the concert association. They’re debuting that work this weekend with the album “Spring Breakup: Songs for Alaska.” The songs were co-written by Portland Cello Project’s Gideon Freudmann and former Anchorage resident Annalisa Tornfelt.
In addition to performing their unique take across all genres of music, the group will be leading workshops with students from Alaska Cello Intensive, or ACI. ACI is a cello-based workshop focused on intensive instruction and ensemble work for college-bound and elementary schoo students. ACI draws much of its inspiration from the natural world of Alaska.
To show off the collaborative effort, Alaska Cello Intensive is joining Portland Cello project on stage at Hering, and ACI is performing at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks, 4448 Pikes Landing Road, for a preview performance and chance to meet the artists.
Portland Cello Project formed in 2007 and has played for audiences across the nation. Their sets can range from four to six cellos on stage to a full stage of 12 playing with choirs, wind instruments, horns and percussion.
The Cello Project has three goals for their music, according to their website: bring the cello to places you wouldn’t normally hear it, to play music on the cello you wouldn’t normally hear played on the instrument, and to build bridges across musical communities by bringing a diverse assortment of collaborators on stage with them. Collaborative performances include joining forces with Peter Yarrow, The Corin Tucker Band, Eric Bachmann, The Dandy Warhols, Storm Large, Dan Bern, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down and many more.
The group has a loyal fanbase and has been called “a group of cello-wielding maniacs” by Spacelab Magazine. Other accolades include Spin Magazine stating “This indie orchestra gives classical music a jolt of energy” and MTV.com writing “It doesn’t get much more genre-crossing than this.”
If You Go
What: Portland Cello Project with guests Alaska Cello Intensive
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
Where: Hering Auditorium, 901 Airport Way
Bonus event: See a preview and meet the artists and the composer at an Alaska Cello Intensive performance at 7 p.m Saturday, March 4, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks, 4448 Pikes Landing Road.
Tickets: Available online at fairbanksconcert.org
FYI: This an all-ages, family-friendly performance
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504.